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Two-year squatter ordeal led French landlord to consider hunger strike

The 57-year-old woman was left desperate after her tenant refused to pay €600 rent payment and ignored an eviction notice

A tenant who refused to pay rent for two years was reportedly abusive to the landlord, threatening to destroy the property Pic: Mr Doomits / Shutterstock

A French woman ended up threatening to go on hunger strike after spending two years dealing with a tenant who refused to pay rent. 

Aline, 57, was renting out her home to a young man, now 21, in the town of Issoudun (Indre). 

For two years the tenant refused to pay rent of €600 a month and ignored a court-ordered eviction notice and the termination of the rental agreement. 

The situation was reportedly finally resolved on Wednesday (May 11) after an intervention from the local prefecture to expel the tenant, RMC reported

But Aline said that the ordeal caused her enormous stress and she even wrote to the prime minister’s office about the issue and also threatened to go on hunger strike. 

She said that every time she had to walk past the house it “tore her apart” to see the state of it. 

“There is a 750 square metre plot and it is littered with rubbish. I've also had threats from the tenant: 'I'll rot your crappy house, rip off the paper',” she said.

“It makes me sick and my children too. I feel in a terrible state of stress, I feel like crying all the time.”

The tenants rental agreement was annulled by a court in Châteauroux in February 2021, and then in July that year the court ordered the man to leave the property. 

However, in France the prefecture must send a bailiff to carry out a judicial eviction, which took a long time to organise. One issue was that the authorities had to find alternative housing for the tenant, who refused several offers to move. 

Aline said that the whole affair “cost her a fortune”. 

“You get the impression that these people are [overly] protected. I feel like a rich person when I'm not. What I want is to get my house back, disinfect it, clean it, see it sorted again.”

The house was where Aline raised her children with her husband, who is now deceased. 

Evicting squatters

There are two different procedures in place to reclaim a property that has been taken over by squatters in France. One is by judicial means meaning it must go through courts. This can often take a very long time.

The second procedure is administrative.

A new procedure, launched on February 1 this year, means that bailiffs can now guide property owners who are victims of squatting through the entire process of recovering their property by administrative means. 

The bailiffs can offer free advice to homeowners, but there will be a fee of around €200 to €300 for their assistance in the process, to be specified depending on the case.

This is usually a much more efficient way of dealing with squatters, with the situation usually resolved within 72 hours. However, it took longer than this in 40% of cases in 2021, Le Figaro reports

You can find a bailiff near you at this website

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